walking trails. We live not close to nature, but in nature. What is great is that so many of us are out there daily on the walking trails enjoying it.
But we are also busy folks. We go to our jobs, get the kids to school and back, volunteer, coach and generally spend time being involved in our communities.
That is why it can be a great option to turn our walks in nature into mindfulness walks.
When we go for a walk, we are already getting exercise, fresh air and Vitamin D from the sun. Perhaps we are also getting our dog out for its daily run. By choosing to practise mindfulness on our walks, we can add rewiring our brains to the list of things we’re accomplishing when we go for a walk.
Our minds are crazy places. They jump from here to there, thinking about everything from our childhood to our senior years, no matter what our present age, sometimes all in the course of a minute. Our minds get stuck on things we wish we wouldn’t obsess over and refuse to take seriously the things in our lives that need our attention.
This is kind of the yucky news, that we have these minds that can make us feel overwhelmed and out of control. The good news is that we can take back control of our minds simply by practising mindfulness.
Jon Kabbat-Zin, the creator of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, explains that, “The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness. Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing.”
We can practise mindfulness as part of our walking routine.
What we do is choose a point of awareness we are going to work with before we leave for the walk. This point of awareness is what we are going to bring our attention back to every time we get caught up in our thoughts. It could be our breath, our feet against the ground, our sense of sight, or our sense of hearing. One of these would be best.
Every time we notice we are thinking about something, we just shift attention away from our thoughts back to whichever point of awareness we chose to work with.
We will have to do this often, maybe every 30 seconds, or even more frequently.
But what we are doing here is breaking the habit of always giving our attention to our thoughts.
This is a good thing, because there is so much beauty to notice – the colours on the trees, the inhalations and exhalations of the breath that tell us we are alive, the sound of the birds and our own hearts beating.
When we stop always being caught up in our thoughts, there is a whole world to experience. And it becomes easier with practice. I hope your next walk will be a mindfulness one.